De-citizenship new mantra of Modi govt: MP

De-citizenship new mantra of Narendra Modi govt: MP

M V Rajeev Gowda and Swapan Dasgupta on Tuesday. DH PHOTO

Prime Minister Narendra Modi wasted his first term in office to push demonetization but he is now wasting his second on the idea of de-citizenization, Congress Member of Parliament Rajeev Gowda said.

Speaking at a discussion at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) on Tuesday titled “Citizenship Amendment Act, National Register of Citizens and the Idea of India,” Rajya Sabha MPs Rajeev Gowda of Congress and Swapan Dasgupta of the BJP attempted to dissect the controversy surrounding the legislation. 

The appearance of two Members of Parliament (MPs) from opposites sides of the aisle was supposed to be a sombre examination of the facts. Instead, it resulted in spirited discussion between seasoned elocutors in full command of their powers.

Gowda described the nexus of the CAA-NRC as being capable of wreaking “chaos in the country.”

It was a statement that Dasgupta gamely disputed, evoking the BJP party line that the Act is a predominantly humanitarian and will alleviate the suffering of Hindu refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan living in camps in India. 

Quoting a 2016 Carnegie report which praised India as a haven for refugees from surrounding owing to its relatively sound economic position vis-a-vis its neighbors,” Dasgupta pointed to the reports’ final findings: that the influx of refugees/illegal immigrants from Bangladesh had largely been left unattended.

“So, why the CAA? It is part of a broad ideological narrative or does it actually pertain to a very specific problem which has been plaguing this country for a long time?” he asked.

"The problem of Hindu persecution in this country is real,” he added and cited a study by the Bangladesh economist, Abul Barkat, who wrote that the numbers of Hindus fleeing his country had risen from 581 daily between 1970 to 1981, to 744 per day from 2001 to 2012.

 "Barkat has said that by the year 2050, there will be no Hindus left in Bangladesh. This is a magnitude of a specific problem which we face,” he clarified.

 Not Thought Through

Gowda responded that it was highly unlikely Bangla Hindus and Muslims were abandoning their country in search of better economic opportunities in India. “After all, Bangladesh's economy is booming, but I am not sure ours is. Wasn’t that something the government was supposed to address?” he asked.

 He added: “If we start going down the path of opening our doors to people who are in difficulty, we should be having a much larger conversation about where all this is going to go. Religious persecution is one dimension, but in the future, we will have climate refugees.”

 Dasgupta’s citing of Barkat’s research is said to be problematic. To a Bengaluru-based researcher, Barkat had claimed his research findings had been twisted. When asked about this, Dasgupta told DH that Barkat had probably made the statement to deflect criticism.

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